Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Subjects > Etchings > Etching


Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 30
Date: 1858/1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 135 x 99 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: ' "Seymour" ' at lower left (2-final)
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 29
Catalogues: K.31; M.32; T.17; W.23
Impressions taken from this plate  (29)


boy, clothing, child, dress, kilt, pond, portrait, wood.


There are several version of the title, some identifying the sitter and others differentiating this etching from other portraits of the sitter:

'Seymour' (1857/1858, Whistler). 2
'Seymour Haden, standing against a tree' (1872, British Museum). 3 'Little Seymour' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 4
'Seymour Haden, leaning against a tree' (Union League Club, 1881). 5
'Seymour' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 6
'Seymour Standing under a Tree' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 7

Whistler's title, 'Seymour', is adequate. Both Whistler and his wife listed an etching as 'Seymour', but since there were several portraits of the boy, it is not certain that they always meant this etching. 8

2: Etched on the plate.

3: B.M. Print Room Register of Purchases ... 1872.

4: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 17).

5: New York 1881 (cat. no. 34).

6: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 23).

7: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 31)

8: Whistler, 18 July 1889, GUW #13235; [1890/1891], #13236; B. Whistler, list, [1890/1892], #12715.


The boy is in profile to left, leaning against a broad tree-trunk in open woodland, his legs and the base of the tree being reflected in calm water in the foreground. He gazes upwards with wide open wondering eyes, his mouth slightly open, as if not sure of what he sees, or as if deep in inward reflection (which might be echoed by the reflections in the water).
He wears a high bonnet with long ribbons falling at the back; a loose wide-sleeved jacket buttoned at the top, over a buttoned waistcoat; a black tie in a bow under a rounded shirt collar; a very small purse or sporran over a knee-length kilt or skirt with soft pleats; long dark socks, possibly plaid; and lace-up shoes. His hair is slightly curly, reaching nearly to his collar.
The sun casts shadows to right and the boy appears to be looking straight up toward the sun.


A full length portrait of Francis Seymour Haden, Jr (1850-1918), the eldest son of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) and Whistler's half-sister Deborah. Whistler added the boy's name, 'Seymour' (in quotation marks) at the bottom of the plate (just as he added the name 'Annie' to Annie 007). Seymour posed for three portrait etchings, Seymour, Standing 010, Seymour Haden, Jr, Seated 009, and this one.


This was etched in London, possibly in Greenwich Park. The open parkland scene bears comparison with several early etchings by Whistler, particularly Girl in a wood 031, and including Greenwich Pensioner 040, Greenwich Park 041 and Nursemaid and Child 042.


The subject is one that became central to Whistler's work - that of reflection, both physical and mental.
As a portrait of a Haden child, and as a rural idyll, it appears to be related to the one etching by Haden and Whistler, Girl in a wood 031. It is, like that etching, rather stiff and naive in its representation both of the boy and of 'nature'.
The outfit is similar, but not identical, to that seen in the other etched portraits of Seymour. Mansfield described it as: 'A boy dressed in Scotch fashion' but the dress is typical Victorian boy's dress, and although it may be a kilt, it is not specifically Scottish, nor is it a tartan. 9

9: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 32).